P&Z rule change would allow Intown Macon room rentals; downtown ATM runs afoul of Design Review Board

The Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission is revising, refining and updating its code


Liz Fabian

The Macon-Bibb Design Review Board did not sign off on the lights and awning when this Wells Fargo ATM on Second Street was first approved in 2021.

Intown Macon homeowners would be able to rent out more than two rooms in their homes under code changes proposed by the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission.

P&Z Executive Director Jeff Ruggieri has been looking into amending the language concerning guest quarters in the historic district to allow for bed and breakfast operations to have up to 10 guests and serve two meals a day.

Ruggieri said the proposed changes could help owners of large homes maintain their property.

“Give them a way to make some revenue and provide a service. It will bring more people into the historic areas and still protect the community,” Ruggieri told P&Z commissioners last month. “You can think about it. No bars, no restaurants, just a bed and breakfast.”

During Monday’s meeting, Ruggieri said he further clarified the amendment to specify that the homeowner, who must live at the residence, can serve alcohol to guests, but not the general public.

The amendment is expected to be on an upcoming agenda next month.

ATM issue goes back to DRB

The Design Review Board is tasked with taking another look at a Wells Fargo ATM that ran afoul of its original Certificate of Appropriateness in a historic building at 596 Cherry St. at the corner of Second Street.

In July of 2021, the DRB approved the automated teller and its yellow and red frame, but installers added a lighted awning that doubles as a sign, two lights and a surveillance camera that were not part of the original design.

On March 6, the DRB expressed concern that the historic building’s stone seal had been cut for the awning installation. They did not approve the additions and asked that the lights and awning be removed and the building be patched.

Over the past week, P&Z has learned that there are lighting guidelines for ATMs in Georgia requiring a certain amount of light around automated teller machine. Staff asked that commissioners table the application and send it back to the Design Review Board for further review of the regulations that might necessitate the additional lighting.

In other business

1962 Forsyth St. – Louise Barfield was granted conditional use approval to move her Little Carnegie of the South music school with live performances next door to a Neel Reid designed home from the school’s existing location at 1954 Forsyth St.

Barfield, whose family has continuously lived in the Victorian homes on the three adjoining properties since 1862, plans to turn 1954 into an Airbnb.

The non-profit concert hall is celebrating its 20th anniversary, Barfield said.

4161 Riggins Mill Road – Ashley Jones was approved to grow vegetables and herbs on a 5.4-acre lot near the Regional Youth Detention Center. The McDonough woman plans to sell the produce offsite at markets and stores. Jones also plans to explore how many tiny homes she might be able to fit on the property in the future.

990 Maple St. – Certificate of Appropriateness granted for modifications to the front porch, landscape and addition of a deck at the rear of the Beall’s Hill home.

6389 Zebulon Road – Conditional Use approved to allow expansion of an existing mini-warehouse storage facility by adding four new buildings with 250 new units on about three acres of an undeveloped lot.

1664 Wesleyan Drive – In an application for a variance for an outbuilding, commissioners determined under further review that a variance was not needed in this case. P&Z plans to refund homeowner Robert Reese the $315 application fee.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.